By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Enjoy fun in the sun this season with the region’s top attractions.
1. The Great New York State Fair and your local county’s fair
What brings out the kid in us more than going to a fair? The animals, rides, games, food, entertainment, vendors — a fair has something for everyone, and usually a few surprises. Take your family and relish an American tradition together.
2. New York State Parks
Why travel far away when our own state offers plenty of places for outdoor recreation? New York’s parks includes beaches, hiking, picnicking and camping sites, sports grounds, playgrounds and more. Many offer free access and some a minimal parking fee for all day use.
With the $80 Empire Pass Card, you can enjoy unlimited, all-season entry to the state’s park system for your entire family, as the card isn’t assigned to a specific vehicle. The three-year pass is $205, the five-year pass is $320 and the lifetime pass, which is a driver’s license designation, is $750.
You can also renew an expired pass card for a savings over obtaining a new card with the Renew My Pass! feature. The website also details free access programs to most parks for several groups, including those who are active duty military, disabled, disabled veterans, and people 62 and older.
3. Community concerts
New York welcomes many top-notch acts this season; however, you shouldn’t dismiss local talent. Many communities host open air concerts in parks with local musicians with a variety of genres. Support their efforts with your presence and enjoy a summer evening. A few larger community concerts are listed in the Events Calendar; however, you can likely find smaller ones in your community newspaper.
4. Farmers’ markets
Buying into the local food movement makes sense for your wallet and your health, as you can find the freshest food possible at your local farmers’ market, often for less than you may find at grocery stores. But it’s also good for the community to support farmers’ markets. You’ll likely see someone you know and also get to know more members of your community. Many farmers’ markets also feature local artists, vendors and food.
Between markets, buy from a farm stand or community supported agriculture (CSA). With a CSA, you pay a farm a set amount for a season’s or year’s access to their harvest that you can receive weekly from a designated pick-up location.
5. Visit a water park
www.iloveny.com (then click “waterparks”)
Wherever you live in New York, you’re likely near a good-sized water park. Take the children or grandchildren, as half the fun is watching children delight in a waterslide or catch a wave at the wave pool for the first time. If yours are still very small, the splash parks in the region can provide a good opportunity to cool off, such as Geneva’s Seneca Lake Park (https://parks.ny.gov/parks/125), which also features playground equipment and beachfront or Splash Factory at Roseland Water Park (www.roselandwaterpark.com), a park that also has numerous rides for bigger people.
6. Attend a community festival.
Whether it celebrates a local product (Peppermint Days, Lyons, www.facebook.com/LyonsPeppermintDays), local specialty (National Buffalo Wing Festival, Buffalo, https://buffalowing.com) famous figure (The Ultimate Elvis Festival, Lake George, http://lakegeorgeelvisfest.com) or holiday (New York State’s 4th of July Celebration, Albany), community festivals bring friends and neighbors together for fun. Maybe you haven’t attended in years or ever. This summer, take the time to stop in and peruse the vendors, grab a bite to eat and enjoy the entertainment.